Like Italy, one of the highlights of our Greek trip was the food! Heavily influenced by Turkish cuisine, Greek food was really delicious and very affordable. Some of what we tried and would definitely recommend include (we ate a lot- this is a long but tasty post!):
Greek salad: When in Greece, how can you not?! The vegetables are some of the freshest, the tomatoes are flavorful and the fresh feta is delicious!
Tzatziki: In the land of the best yogurt in the world, anything made with yogurt is delicious. Fresh tzatziki with warm bread could absolutely make a meal on its own.
Eggplant salad: Also made with yogurt, but this time with smoked eggplant- how can one go wrong!
Saganaki cheese: Pan-seared hard yellow Greek cheese, eaten with a drizzle of lemon, sounds as delicious and sinful as it tastes!
Kopanisti: Made with sharp tasting cheese from the Cycladic island of Tinos, with sun-dried tomatoes and yogurt, it had a strong taste- not necessarily for all palettes, but we really liked it, especially washed down with ice cold Ouzo!
Spinach and cheese roll: Inspired from Turkish food, it also made for a great breakfast.
Given a chance to go to one of the islands, sea food starters are:
Seafood soup/stew: Made with a tiny local fish (with an unpronounceable name) it was tasty, heartening and extremely comforting.
Fried calamari: Yes, you can get them anywhere in the world, but how often can you eat them right next to where they were caught?!
Gyro: Almost ubiquitously available, this meat and salad wrap, with fries, slathered in delicious sauce is messy, filling and delicious! We even took a couple to the airport for one last taste of Greece before we left.
Souvlaki: Also another form of kebab, this time on a skewer, it is normally served with fries, salad, and warm fresh pita bread. With the spicy sauce or tzatziki, it is finger licking good.
Kebab with yogurt: With pita at the bottom, kebabs and vegs in the middle, covered with yogurt and spicy tomato sauce, we really licked the platter clean!
Moussaka: One of the better known Greek dishes, the moussaka in Greece was probably the best we’ve ever tasted.
Saffron risotto: Saffron from Greece is world-renowned and when added to risotto, definitely made the dish something special.
Lamb shank: The Greeks pride themselves on eating only the most tender, well cooked meat- and true to form, the meat was delicious, juicy and literally fell off the bone!
And then the sea food…..
Lobster with spaghetti: A delicacy, sold in most restaurants by the weight, we were lucky enough to have it cooked for us in a Greek friend’s house, and oh was it d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! Definitely a must have! Even if it isnt home-made, especially for you..
Hydra Octopus: Made specially on the island of Hydra (Idra), the olive oil and tomato sauce, along with the juicy octopus, come together really well!
Saganaki mussels: We tried this in Hydra, but might be available wherever there are mussels. Made with feta cheese, pump mussels and butter- what’s there not to love!
And finally, for dessert:
Greek yogurt with thyme honey: Simple and delicious, I could’ve eaten it for every meal! The yogurt is thick and creamy and thyme honey (honey from bees who visit only thyme flowers) has just the right amount of sweetness… ah heavenly!
Baklava: Also influenced by the long Turkish rule, they have baklava with pistachios, almonds, walnuts and even chocolate!
Orange cake: Made from Seville oranges, that are too bitter to eaten on their own, and sweetened with honey, this was oozing and moist and yummm!
Lemon coconut cake: We were offered it, on the house, in one of the restaurants and would definitely recommend ordering it! Tart and coconut-y, it made for a very interesting dessert.
Fresh fruits: They are everywhere, gorgeous to look at, and so cheap! Peaches, nectarines, strawberries, cherries.. all for only about 1 EUR per kilo! I wish I could’ve brought some back with me!
Drinks (of course):
Frappe: Reading about the frappe culture, is nothing compared to actually seeing it- everyone drinks frappes, all the time! Its a great way to consume coffee- unsweetened or sweetened if the coffee is too strong, iced to beat the heat, it can keep you going all day long!
Tsipouro: Greek brandy, the clear version is drunk before a meal as an aperitif and the aged smoky kind is drunk after meals.
Ouzo: Also drunk as an aperitif, tsipouro with anise came to be called ouzo. It was once called “a substitute for absinthe without the wormwood”. Clear in the bottle, it turns milky white when mixed with water.
Most locals will warn you to be careful when drinking ouzo, and they always recommend drinking it with food. It is generally considered poor form to drink ouzo ‘dry hammer’ “ξεροσφύρι”, xerosfýri, an idiomatic expression that means ‘drinking alcohol without eating anything’ in Greece. This is because, the sugar in ouzo delays absorption of alcohol in the stomach, making the drinker believe that s/he can drink more without feeling tipsy. Then the cumulative effect of ethanol appears and the drinker becomes inebriated rather quickly!
Go to Greece and eat! καλή όρεξη